I want to take this space to say thank you to the many who have prayed for me as I walked through the season of stage 4 prostate cancer. I have shared with you everything from my diagnosis, to treatment options, to making the final decision, to having my prostate removed.

I had the surgery on Aug. 9. I didn’t pick the date; the surgeon did. But anyone who knows me knows Aug. 9 holds special meaning for me. On Aug. 9, 46 years ago, I was ordained to the Gospel ministry. On Aug. 9, six years ago, I summitted Mount Kilimanjaro with the cross. And on Aug. 9, one year ago, I retired as the president of Awe Star Ministries. So why not have cancer surgery on Aug. 9, 2019?

To make a long story short, the surgery was successful, and they got all the cancer. The biopsies for the surrounding areas were all negative, and my recovery was quick and painless. In fact, eight days after my surgery, I spoke three times at a mission’s conference in Enid. This journey has taught me several valuable lessons.

First, I learned that family is everything. I never had surgery or even had to stay overnight in a hospital. But as we entered this season of doubt, my wife was stronger than she has ever been. We knew the cancer was stage 4, but had it spread to any other part of my body? Would the surgeon be able to get it all? Would I need long-term treatment? A thousand questions came to our minds, and my wife took each one in stride. I am usually the one who is the strength of our family, but this time, the shoe was on the other foot—and she wore it well.

Our two sons were there for us in every way. My oldest son, Jeremiah, took off work to come and help, and Caleb became the spokesman, letting everyone know how I was doing.

The doctor has given me some restrictions about what I can do after the surgery. I can’t drive for a few weeks. I can’t lift more than 20 pounds for the first two months, and so on. I can’t mow the lawn, so my sons have been taking care of our yard. It has turned out to be a sweet deal for me. In fact, I thought about slipping the doctor an extra $20 bill to see if he could write me a note that says I can’t mow the lawn for the rest of this year.

I also learned how important my friends are. I have some of the best friends in the world. They came to the hospital to pray with me before I went under the knife. They checked on my family and offered to help in any way they could. They even offered to come over and mow my lawn while I was recovering. I am thinking about raising that bribe to the doctor to $40 and asking if he will say I can’t mow for an entire year.

In any case, my friends continued to call, check, email and message me, letting me know they were there for my family and me. I don’t know why, but I have been blessed by true and faithful friends who have walked this journey of life with me for many years, and I am grateful.

The third thing I learned is the importance of the church. Since I am considered a “demented religious writer and speaker,” people have followed my messages for more than 40 years. These are the people who read my column each week, come and hear me teach when I am near and are gracious to let me know how I have touched their lives. It was this group that came out en masse to pray for me. They even sent pictures of their churches having a prayer meeting on bended knee, praying for my surgery and quick recovery. These prayers were lifted to God from all around the world: Panama, the Ivory Coast, the Middle East, Hungary, China and churches across America. In fact, many of you who are reading this prayed for me, and I am grateful.

If I could be like the apostle Paul when he wrote the church at Philippi, I would say to you. “Dear Family, in my greatest time of my need, you were there, standing in the gap, encouraging, supporting and meeting the needs of our family. It was you who took my needs to our heavenly Father when I was unable to. You offered emotional, physical and spiritual support when we needed it the most. And God has answered your faithful prayers. It’s my deepest desire that I might visit each one of you in person and thank you face to face.”

Please pray that the doctor will give me a note to show my sons that says I can’t mow the lawn for one year. Maybe I need to make that a $100 bill.